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The decline of Capitalism and the newness of the communist proposal: rethinking Socialism in the age of globalization

Creato: 31 Ottobre 2014 Ultima modifica: 17 Settembre 2016 Visite: 3506

From D-M-D' n°4 [IT]

The decaying Capitalism shows its anti-historicity but a plan for a different society does not emerge. This is the time to reopen the debate on the current meaning of Socialism. Is it still valid? Can it solve the serious problems of society? Can it fulfil the free and complete development of every individual’s faculties?

Introduction
“Worse than in 1929!”. That’s what the same bourgeois disconsolate economists exclaim while they get confused in the face of the insolvability of the crisis. Both the Neo-Liberists and the Neo-Keynesians, whose economic remedies, if we look closer, are not so distant [1], verify the failure and the powerlessness of their theories. In 2008, what did they suggest to the Governments in order to avoid the default of the biggest world banks, overwhelmed by debts and junk credits? What did they do in order to avoid the bankruptcy and the conflagration of the world economy resulting from it? More debts, even greater! That is, they healed the disease through intense injections of the disease itself! The goodness of their heart, they solved the bank debts by saddling the States with them, further increasing the amount of their already crippling debts. Now it is necessary to enact policies with the aim to put the mayhem in the public balances into order. And there’ll be trouble for the proletariat. Cuts in the welfare, in order to hold the public deficit down and to offer mountains of money to capital. Taking away from the poor to give to the rich, in the end that’s what the current economic policies consist in! The shrewdest bourgeois economists, anyway worried, wonder what to do, but they have no answers and, when they mumble something, it is only a palliative and nothing more. Meanwhile the economy of the most advanced capitalistic countries is stagnant and their debts increase every day [2].
In our opinion, this crisis is structural, cyclical [3]. What does it mean? That it is insolvable and doomed to exasperate all the current problems until the extreme consequences. Already the two previous great accumulation cycles led to the world wars, that is to the generalized destruction of the productive forces as the only way to free the market of the surplus capital and get its accumulation started. Nowadays this still does not happen but a new virulent phenomenon has resulted from it, the one of the permanent war, that is a not yet generalized war but nevertheless constantly present in many corners of the world and that serves the purpose, with its destructive power, to support the accumulation of capital. This is one of the phenomena of the capitalistic system decline [4], in which the drama of this economic crisis dragging takes place.
If the bourgeois economists cannot solve a crisis they consider extremely serious, it is because they have among their dogmas the irreplaceability of this economic system. Forced to move inside the restricted intellectual spaces imposed by the iron capitalistic economic laws, those determining the current crisis, they cannot but substantially propose again the old economic policies considering that it is impossible to get a glimpse of new ones for the simple reason that they do not exist.
Supported by Marx, we are not trapped by the belief to consider the current relations of production eternal and subsequently we raise the question to find an alternative to Capitalism and its crises. So, according to us, in the decline phase of Capitalism, a phase exacerbated by its cyclical crisis, the subject of Socialism becomes current again. In Marx’s works, it represents, once the revolutionary proletarian event has taken place, the transition phase from Capitalism to Communism, that is the period when the proletariat transforms the capitalistic economy gradually putting it to use in human beings’ needs. At the end of this process, the social classes, and with them any economic inequality, disappear and the State, from an instrument exerting the power of a class by another, turns into a mere administrative instrument of the society. To be brief, we will simply call this phase Transition.
In the light of the deep economic and social changes that Capitalism produced in the 20th century, starting from what Marx wrote, we regard as necessary to rethink the meaning of the Transition in our age. We are still more convinced of it considering what the current political organizations of the Communist left, firmly  established in literally proposing again the formulations inherited from the 19th century and the Third International, are proposing us about such an issue. We do not think that this is a reasoning whose consequences could be immediately changed into practical actions, seen the great political backwardness of the proletarian class, but an analysis which could serve the purpose of a theoretical clarification and the future definition of an up-to-date program, specified in its essential lines, in order to transform the bourgeois society. This is at least what we wish.
We already hear the disapprovals of those who will accuse us of idealism. We reject them in advance. It is not a matter of formulating the profile of an ideal future town, but of pointing out the principles and the general lines of the transformation process of the capitalistic society in the light of the reality that the same Capitalism has put before our eyes. In other words, a reasoning which could at least outline in general terms the contents of the socialist transformation in the modern articulate capitalistic society, so much different from the 19th century one, when the theory of the scientific Socialism was formulated. The arguments are wide and complex. With this article, we would like just to start the debate we hope will be as large as possible. We invite everybody to take part in it.

The essential historical references

We said that Marx’s elaboration of the scientific Socialism, in our opinion, is only the starting point to face the subject of Transition. The final part of the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” [5], where the first measures to be taken in order to start the transformation of the capitalistic society are listed, widely convey the social and political conditions of that period. Nowadays, many of those measures have been undertaken by the same bourgeois society. Then, that part of the “Manifesto” which is so dated, shows us three fundamental things: Communism is the arrival point of the transformation process of the capitalistic production relations (Transition process), the necessarily international character of this last [6], the need to redefine the modern contents of the Transition process.
In “Critique of the Gotha Program” [7], Marx provides us other important elements to understand the principles which will have to inspire the transformation of the capitalistic mode of production. He tells us that in the socialist phase, as regards the subdivision of what the collectivist society produces and what the worker receives, the law of value is still operating since he “draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labor cost. The same amount of labor which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another”. Marx specifies that the law of value will be totally abolished only through the achievement of Communism [8], when the exchange is settled “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. In Marx’s opinion, a part of the social production will have to be devoted to enlarge the production, that is to develop the productive forces. This a central point of his thought because he has to face a bourgeois society just developed in which the proletariat lives in misery, forced to a hard working day, with a few means of subsistence on hand. We will have to get back to this aspect of Socialism considered as a development of the productive forces.
Marx, in “The German Ideology”, highlights the importance that Socialism is born resting on a high degree of development of the productive forces: “ it is a practical prerequisite absolutely necessary also because without it only misery would generalize and so because of the want, the conflict for the necessary would start again, too…” [9]. He stresses that human beings’ liberation will be possible only through their liberation from need, a possible event provided that there will be a high degree of development of the productive forces.
Speaking of the proletarian internationalism, he specifies: “only through this universal development of the productive forces (produced by Capitalism, editor’s note), universal intercourses among human beings can take place, this on the one hand produces the phenomenon of the mass ‘without property’ at the same time for every people…Without it…Communism could exist only as a local phenomenon…any widening of the (capitalistic, editor’s note) relations would suppress the local Communism”. Later, he adds “Thus things have now come to such a pass that the individuals must appropriate the existing totality of productive forces, not only to achieve self-activity, but, also, merely to safeguard their very existence. This appropriation is first determined by the object to be appropriated, the productive forces, which have been developed to a totality and which only exist within a universal intercourse. From this aspect alone, therefore, this appropriation must have a universal character corresponding to the productive forces and the intercourse. The appropriation of these forces is itself nothing more than the development of the individual capacities corresponding to the material instruments of production. The appropriation of a totality of instruments of production is, for this very reason, the development of a totality of capacities in the individuals themselves. This appropriation is further determined by the persons appropriating. Only the proletarians of the present day, who are completely shut off from all self-activity, are in a position to achieve a complete and no longer restricted self-activity, which consists in the appropriation of a totality of productive forces and in the thus postulated development of a totality of capacities (italics are ours). […] Communism is possible empirically only as an action of the ruling peoples all ‘together’ and at the same time, which presupposes the universal development of the productive force and the world intercourses that Communism implies” [10]. Here Marx unequivocally indicates the Transition and the achievement of Communism as universal phenomena, that is as phenomena that necessarily will have to involve the entire society because of the character of interdependence the human intercourses have assumed after Capitalism itself has developed. So Marx denies the possibility for Socialism to assert itself as a local, regional and limited phenomenon.
As concerns the production planning, the few references we have, are to be found above all in Engels’s works, in “The Development of Socialism from Utopia to Science” and in “Anti-Dühring”. Marx just mentions it in the “Third Volume” of “Capital” [11].
Lenin quotes in full Marx in “State and Revolution” [12]. He points out the relations between the social classes and the State, the characteristics of the proletarian State and its organisms, the former’s character and the fundamental Transition economic measures. His analysis of the proletarian State operation shows that every position is held thanks to a direct election by the revolutionary proletariat and it is characterized by the immediate revocability; it is a new form of democracy in which the direct participation of the proletariat in the state operation fulfills. Actually, as he specifies, it is a semi-State, since this organism has lost many of the previous functions it performed in the bourgeois society. Lenin ends the booklet explaining how Socialism passes into Communism with the overcoming of the division between intellectual and manual labour and with the full elimination of the social classes. At that point, the State will turn from an organism of supremacy of a class by another class into a simple organism of public administration. The text remains a fundamental reference.


The current situation  cannot be compared to the 1917 one

The Bolshevik Revolution does not offer much theoretical material to face the issue of Transition. The nowadays’ reality is too different in respect to that time. Today’s Capitalism is not substantially different from the one analysed by Marx and by Lenin in his “Imperialism” [13], but the considerable changes produced by Capitalism itself in about a century force to a rethinking. Of course, the capital accumulation process based on the production of surplus is still the same but the new resulting phenomena are very extensive. Let’s consider the most important.
The development of the productive forces has come to a very high degree and there have been great changes in the amount and quality of the produced goods, changes that were really unimaginable just as century ago and this has produced for the first time in history an only really world-wide market, just as Marx foresaw, in which the human intercourses have become actually universal. This is enough to indicate us how much the material conditions to overcome the capitalistic mode of production have decidedly established themselves. The financial capital, described by Lenin in his “Imperialism”, has made a gigantic jump forward so much that it has become the characterizing element of today’s Capitalism. It can be helpful to the reader to remember our analysis of the fictitious capital, as an economic ruling form in the advanced countries. We can observe it in the recurrent financial crises, always more frequent and intense, periodically upsetting the markets and destabilizing the manufacturing firms, by now totally subjugated to and integrated in the financial capital.
Science and Technology [14] in the 20th century had an impressive development, unimaginable in the previous century, with deep consequences on the work organization and on its international subdivision. It is almost useless remembering the wide global process of proletarianization, characterized by the formation of a class of sellers of undifferentiated labour force, that is deprived of any content of ability, knowledge and experience, and so easily interchangeable in the working process, and also marked by a higher degree of poverty in respect to the wealth socially produced. The class composition springing from it is such a new phenomenon that we cannot disregard, considering the tasks the future proletarian world organization will have to perform, the future International. Even the forms of the bourgeois ideological supremacy have been perfected by establishing the production of goods on a wide scale and by using the modern communication systems. It is such a penetrating supremacy that we have felt the need to coin the word thought-commodity [15]. This is a novelty we think we cannot ignore, too.
In the end, even if the list is very reducing, we are in front of the full show of the Capitalism decline phase, described by Lenin in his “Imperialism”, with all its own social consequences: the polarization of wealth, the subsequent diffusion of poverty also in the advanced capitalistic economies, the expansion of precariousness to every aspect of the proletarian life, the barbarization of the social intercourses, the permanent war as destructive phenomenon to support the accumulation process.
If we recall the second post-war  period, above all the period starting from the 1960s up to the early 1990s, we realize that the impetuous capitalistic development upset the proletarian life-style in western countries. The big industry, its very high productivity, allowed the wage to buy a great deal of commodities, of course debased but extremely numerous compared to any previous historical period. Besides, even if the process started in the 1930s, after the 1929 big crisis, the bourgeoisie built a social protection system (education, pensions, unemployment benefits, health care, etc.), allowing it, at least temporarily, to show Capitalism as the social system able to bestow the progress and the wellness to the entire society. This, together with the disastrous experience of the so-called real Socialism, has made possible a fierce attack to the Marxist thought, corroborated by the strength of the powerful means of communication meanwhile developed. Nowadays, because of the advanced economic crisis, an inverse process has started, forcing the bourgeoisie to turn back, to take away all that it had previously granted. Then, if on the one hand the forecasts from the “Manifesto” about the process the proletarianization of the entire society [16] are confirmed, on the other hand a rethinking of Socialism is necessary to point out what the needs of human beings are in today’s reality, what it means to develop the productive forces in a context in which the capitalistic production has created absolutely useless goods and the ransacking of the eco-system Earth ‘s resources, what it means to free humanity from want and to develop a society in which, as Marx says in the “Manifesto”, “the free develop of anybody is the condition for the free develop of everybody”. If we can demonstrate the necessity and the newness of the Communist proposal, then this last will be credible again.


Bolshevik Party principles and action. Some annotations


We believe that the Transition concept present in the Bolshevik Party was strongly influenced by the Marx’s ideas formulated in the 19th century. And it could not be different. In practice, Socialism was fundamentally conceived as:

-                     Abolition of private property and centralization of the means of production in State hands (nationalization of the economy through the transfer of property to State);

-                     Development of the productive forces;

-                     Substitution of the market with the economy planning;

-                     Wage equality among all the members of the society.

These are the principles inspiring the measures of the revolutionary Russia, both in the “War Communism” period and in the later years, until the formulation of the aberrant “Socialism in an only country”, an out-and-out rupture between the period we call revolutionary and the open counter-revolution one starting, without any distinction, the development of State Capitalism, leaving on the ground a terrible trail of blood because of the violent repression it gave rise to. It would be interesting to see again the very troubled period of War Communism, resulting in the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1921, when the measures for a declared return to Capitalism were adopted in the attempt to stimulate the devastated economy and withstand the international isolation in which the Soviet Union found itself, first of all providing for the primary needs of the starved population. We cannot do this but, by the way, we want to stress the fundamental contribution given by the Italian Communist Left to understand what was happening, to define the State Capitalism [17] and to unequivocally condemn Stalinism as a process totally extraneous to Marxism and Socialism. At the same time we have to notice that the same Left, and all the innumerable political organizations springing from it, have stopped at that elaboration, not being able to update their thought in relation to the enormous changes determined, since the 1970s, by the capitalistic development.
Now we are interested in dwelling on other aspects more pertinent to the article topic. The productive force development was a central subject in Marx, a subject recalled by the Bolshevik Party. Undoubtedly this was a task linked to the state of economy in the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th one, above all in the still underveloped Russia. The Bolshevik Party program could not but pivot on this, above all waiting for the revolution to broaden and be able to count on the industry of the most capitalistically developed countries, first of all the German one. The problem to solve more urgently was to feed the inhabitants of the towns, trying to set on foot the devastated industry, got out beaten from the war, and start the exchange with the countryside. Two years of civil war, the isolation and the serious problems connected to the paralysis of the manufacturing activity forced to take the measures we know. In practice, what they were forced to do was trying to resist, starting a capitalistic development of economy, waiting for the international revolution. This did not take place and consequentially it was not possible to start any Transition process. Even the first measures linked to a partial wage equality among all the members of society, mainly adopted in the State controlled industries, soon had to be withdrawn.
We want to highlight what, according to us, seems an ambiguity present in Lenin’s formulations. In his “Report on the Tax in Kind” [18], Lenin defines socialist area the nationalized sector of the big industry, meaning by that it was a socialist area above all for the political control on it rather than its real economic content. We believe that his definition was at least ambiguous, given that, despite the State control, the production had the aim to accumulate capital. The political control of the State organisms, moreover soon made by officials appointed by the Bolshevik Party in place of the actual proletarian participation, was not sufficient to apply the term “socialist” neither to that economic sector.
Even the fact that there was a planning does not change the question. Since the market and money, and so the exchange based on the law of value, remained, planning facilitated only the faster accumulation of capital compared to the traditional one of the western private Capitalism. And this happened in the 1930s allowing the Soviet Union to intervene in the Second World War as an imperialistic power, second only to the American one.
As concerns the state of the Soviets, we notice that after two years of civil war the State organisms, which had to fulfil the proletarian participation in the power management, changed more and more into organisms in which there were the officials appointed by the Bolshevik Party. When the will of the proletariat to fight and participate failed, the Party replaced it in the State management. It was a matter of another clear indicator that the revolutionary process was gradually ending.

First cause for reflection: phenomena global dimension

A first question we want to start to face is strictly linked to the so-called market globalization, that is the full correlation of the several national economies, an unthinkable fact only a few decades ago. In particular, nowadays the financial capital circulates at such a speed and interdependence that any phenomenon related to it affects the world market.
Recently, the phenomena global dimension has been stressed by some episodes locally born which have immediately gone beyond the national sphere. The social disadvantage present in the Arabian countries, when it exploded, soon involved a very large geographic area that, even if with all any single nation’s peculiarities, showed an impressive synchronicity. After several decades of stability, those countries have been simultaneously subverted by very deep political upheavals.
The indignados movement which, even if with all its reformist illusions represents the rising up, in the capitalistically advanced countries, of a widespread discontent involving the proletariat and large strata of the petty bourgeoisie, was born in Spain and has immediately become the flag of the protest movements extending to the USA, Israel and Europe. This has happened because all over the world the measures taken by the national bourgeoisies are similar and the explosion of the protest manifests itself on an enlarged scale setting almost simultaneously in motion millions of people in several continents! We do not have to forget that these are only little signs, movements with a still limited range. But what would happen if the crisis worsened still further, if the bourgeois measures to stem it were even more incisive on the life conditions of the social classes which already at present live the economic crisis with serious disadvantages? It is even hard to imagine the intensity and the scale of the phenomena that would ensue if the crisis got out of the world financial institution control.
Then the finance and the crisis of the State debt. Greece, with its very modest, almost insignificant economic weight in the world, triggered a financial crisis quickly involving the other European countries, forcing Germany, relying on its economic weight, to act as a guarantor in order to avoid an uncontrolled default of the Hellenic country. The crisis international dimension is caused by the enormous amount of the public debt bonds of Greece, Spain, Italy, etc., that is of the potentially insolvent countries, in the hands of the biggest banks, above all German and French. But the cry of alarm has risen also from the other shore of the Atlantic. The European financial crisis could have immediately had repercussions on the USA and subsequently on the entire world. Still nowadays, while we are writing, the risk of very strong financial  disturbances on a world scale has not yet been defeated. As we are verifying, the financial market is so interconnected that even the crisis of a small country has dangerous repercussions on a world scale!
Now, just for a moment, let’s make a fantastic jump in the future and imagine a revolutionary event similar to the Bolshevik one in a reality of full economic integration as our time’s one. Let’s give the example of any European country but the matter could be valid for any capitalistically advanced country. For instance, what would happen if that revolutionary country repudiated, of course one of the first things it would do, the public debt? How many financial institutions of the residual capitalistic countries would risk the default? What repercussions there would be immediately on an international scale on the economy and the life of millions of proletarians? What reactions the international proletariat would have? In any case it would be a turmoil making collapse the precarious financial balances of the States and financial institutions all over the world! Whereas in 1917 the Bolshevik Revolution in practice did not have for the residual capitalistic world any economic consequence, today it would not be the same. Whereas at that time Germany could face its serious home economic problems without any consequence on the Russian revolutionary event, now practically this situation would not exist anymore. In face of any proletarian revolution, the whole world financial system and the international exchanges of goods would be strongly destabilized and there would be an unprecedented global economic crisis. Not counting the effect of the resulting political detonator on an international scale. If in 1917, even though the means of communication were insufficient and slow, the proletarian revolution echo represented an enormous repeal for the international proletarian movement, fancy nowadays, with the information getting around the world in real time, what a revolutionary event in a single country would set in motion.
If the indignados movement has internationally spread without any centralized organization coordinating it, fancy a new Communist International, well rooted within the class, what could determine in the world promoting the working class fights!
So, we want to dwell on how much it is necessary to get out any nationalistic concept of the problems. An international strategic concept is at present absolutely necessary in order to hypothesize any solution to the economic problems. Let’s get back to the Transition and consider the avant-garde re-aggregation process. The revolutionary Party re-organization process, supposing that it develops, will necessarily need, because of what we said above, an international dimension. It is fundamental to consider it in the view of the work to be done in order to achieve that organization. The path followed by Lenin, even if imposed by those historical circumstances, made us see that the delay in the International establishment caused bad consequences. The experience of the Third International, in practice founded in 1919 by the Bolshevik Party and strongly influenced by it, showed how it was easy to subdue the strategic interests of the international proletarian several sections to the revolutionary Russian ones. Basically, the interest of a single national section imposed on all the others’ ones. Who have borne the brunt was the proletariat of the several countries which had to adapt, already since the Third Congress in 1921, to some tactics starting to diverge from the foundation principles of the International itself. This contributed to the subsequent tragedy, too.
We think that, at least theoretically, given that nowadays it is not possible to do anything else, to have clear ideas on the immediately international character that the political avant-garde re-aggregation process of the class will have to assume, is very important.
The current globalization puts a second question deserving our attention. Marx theoretically and the experience of the Russian revolution practically, showed the impossibility of Communism on a national scale. Could we think then of a larger dimension, for instance continental, to start the Transition process? Of course, such a wide scope revolutionary event would have upsetting repercussions on the surrounding capitalistic world, we have already underlined this. If the revolutionary process did not broaden to the world residual capitalistic part, could we think to stabilize the situation and begin a Transition process? We exclude it because of the present economic interconnection that would create a complete incompatibility between the two economic areas, that would fight economically, politically and by force of arms for their survival. Therefore, in the light of the world current economic situation, we tend to exclude the prediction of such a scenario, on the contrary we think that in a short time (a few months, some years?) only one of the two areas could survive. We are undoubtedly in the field of the intellectual speculation, but these are huge themes, which should at least be discussed.

Second cause for reflection: a big historical opportunity for humanity

We take for granted that the material conditions for the overcoming of the capitalistic mode of production exist, moreover, that they have ripened as never before in the history of Capitalism. But there is not at all the subjective element for this overcoming to take place. The class is reduced to a group of individuals who do not even recognize they belong to it. The program and the organization which should lead this class practically do not exist and so the bourgeoisie keeps on being on the rage, managing the decline phase and the economic crisis going with it according to its conservation strategies. The debate, in the environments referring to Marx, is finding, in the current social situation, some material for a renewed reflection, but there is not yet a clear concept of the theoretical and practical problems we have to solve in order to propose again the alternative to Capitalism. In such a context, it seems necessary to us at least to underline the big historical opportunity offered to humanity: the full individual liberation from any form of submission and the possibility of its widest fulfilment. Nowadays, the enormous productive force development produced by Capitalism itself has created conditions never occurred before in the history of humanity. A scientific knowledge that, even if limited and falsified by the bourgeois interest, has granted a comprehension of the natural world which is really potentially able, if autonomous from the law of profit and put in human beings’ service, to solve many problems of the human kind. A powerful technology used in a hugely developed industry that, employing a little labour force, can potentially produce enough to satisfy the primary needs of the entire population. On the contrary, this very deep knowledge and this powerful technology are producing, bridled as they are in the laws of capital accumulation, very serious social and environmental upheavals. A big contradiction if we think that opposite so much knowledge and so many technological wonders the most prudential scientists denounce the unsustainability of the current development model, fearing ecological disasters causing serious disturbances of the delicate environmental balances created in millions of years and that have allowed the life of the present living beings. Besides this, the bourgeois sociology itself denounces the state of progressive decay which is being generated in the megalopolis of the Earth [19], where by now more than half its inhabitants are concentrated. We have already recalled the condition of precariousness in which the proletariat and by now also a part of the petty bourgeoisie live and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a more and more limited number of people.
In the light of these considerations, it is important for us to notice that the identification of Socialism, typical of the Second and Third international, with the productive force development is at least limited. Today we are facing quite different problems and applying literally that conception would generate dangerous misunderstandings. We do not know neither when, neither where, nor in which economic conditions the revolutionary events will take place and we absolutely do not know which economic and social ruins the capitalistic crisis causing those events will leave on the ground, but of course we cannot think that the Transition is reduced to the simple productive force development. In western countries the hunger problem is widely solved. This confronts us with the fact that in an area of the world, the capitalistically more advanced one, it is even necessary to pursue the reshaping of the productive forces and their reconversion depending on needs radically different from the simple material consumption. In this way it would be possible to face the matter of the production sustainability in proportion to the limited planet resources, too. And also the ones of demographic sustainability and rebalance of the relation between town and countryside. We believe all this requires a clarification of the Transition meaning.
Let’s consider also the potentiality incidental to the working day reduction that the modern technologies would permit. If only the totality of the population active forces was used in the production, the working day could be reduced to a few hours and this liberation of disposable time would allow the individuals to redefine the course of their life at all. The so-called human needs would be immediately modified by assuming connotations unimaginable nowadays but that certainly would have little to do with the simple hyperbolic goods consumption typical of the modern bourgeois society. So, another aspect of the newness of the socialist proposal manifests itself: the usage of the modern technological means would permit human beings to dispose of a time, most of their time, for social purposes and for their complete fulfillment as individuals through the full carrying out of each inclination and creative ability of theirs. Here we have another course of reflection that should precise the meaning of the concepts formulated by Marxism almost two centuries ago.

Third cause for reflection: the socialization of the means of production, the State, the class participation in its emancipation

Meanwhile it is necessary to clear the difference between the nationalization of the means of production and their socialization. It is a misunderstanding that still at present hinders the mind of many thinkers recalling Marx but who identify the Stalinist course with Socialism. They conceive Socialism first of all as a transformation of the private property in public, state property (nationalization of the means of production and of the banks). We can find the same misunderstanding in some of the new political proposals, openly recalling Socialism and aiming at the fulfillment of democratic governments controlled by waged workers. These governments, as soon as they take office, should take measures to expropriate the bourgeoisie and put under State control the most important means of production and banks. All this within a national transformation. Actually it is a new reformist radicalism which does not put in the middle of its program the overcoming of the capitalist relations of production, which could happen only in the context of the world revolution. Subsequently, they are programs that, if fulfilled, would exclusively result in the nationalization of the means of production and banks, leaving unchanged and operating all the economic categories typical of Capitalism. Such programs, not mentioning the abolition of capital, wage, money, the law of value, market, etc. [20], would reduce to the re-proposal of State Capitalism. So, nothing to do with the process of socialization of the means of production.
Marx uses the term socialization to indicate, in the Transition phase, that is when the revolution had already occurred, the control of the means of production by the proletariat. The property of these means goes to the State, that is to the organism made up of the councils of workers organized in a hierarchy, the organism through which the proletariat takes command of society and begins to change the capitalist relations of production, gradually suppressing the law of value and the connected economic categories (capital, wage, money, commodities, and so on). The term gradually is not to be meant as a linear, slow and regular process, given that they are the concrete circumstances, firstly whether the world revolution takes place or not, that are imposing when and how it will develop, which is absolutely unpredictable at the moment.

In the revolutionary Russia, has the big nationalized industry been socialized? Was the control of that economic area, called socialist by Lenin, effectively in the hands of the proletariat? The monumental work by the historicist E.H. Carr documents the end of the participation of the most advanced elements of the class in the Soviet State organisms [21]. The civil war had decimated the best revolutionary avant-gardes and as the situation worsened, we are talking about the biennium going from 1919 to 1921, a progressive process of decision centralization took place both in the Bolshevik Party and in the State. Besides the Soviets were more and more strictly controlled by the Party, by appointing the officials directly. At that point, their electability by the assemblies and their immediate revocability were by now only a declaration of principle and nothing more. In this case, too, the crushing of the revolutionary process, because of the Russian isolation, could not but have any social innovative instance recoiled. Basically, the socialization turned into a nationalization since the State controlled means of production and banks operated on a par with any other economic sector on a capitalistic basis. Also the following planning would have been part of the capitalistic economic content and so it could not assume any socialist connotation. Therefore, neither the abolition of the private property, neither the state property of the means of production, nor the planning, can qualify the economic process as socialist if the underlying relation of production is still the capitalistic one. There could even be the participation of the workers in the state organisms of the new proletarian democracy, their real control of the production, without starting any Transition process. It is only the simultaneous presence of all these elements, in the context of a world revolutionary area, that can launch the transformation of the capitalist relations of production and the effective fulfillment of the socialization of the production. In this process, the participation of the most dynamic elements of the class, appointed and revocable at any moment by the base assemblies, expression of the class underway its revolutionary movement, remains one of the Transition irreplaceable elements.
The council State had its first concrete fulfillment in Russia in 1917. The workers’ assemblies had elected their representatives directly and Soviets (councils) were born, which, in turn, had directly elected the municipal, provincial and regional organisms up to the superior, national levels. Every position, at least what was intended, was revocable in any moment in order to eliminate any kind of abuse and not to create any source of privilege. At present, in the globalization era, we need also to re-think this aspect of the State organization when we recognize that it should have, like the New International, an over-national dimension. So it is right to think that the level of the future soviets maximum centralization will be the world soviet [22]. But how will it have to work and guarantee the real participation of the class in its organisms? The theme of the fulfillment of democracy, opposed to any form of authority, will have to be reconsidered in order to clarify the intercourse between the command, necessary to the society government, and the free and full expression of the individuals in society. The same theme concerns the internal operation of the International itself. Then, what is at stake are some important questions concerning the relation between the Party and the class, between the Party and the State and the internal operation of the Party itself. It is a matter of serious problems specifiable only through an extensive reflection capable to derive a profit from the experience of the real processes brought in being by the class fight.

A last consideration. We want to highlight how much the current technological means of transmission of information, by now widely present all over the world, would facilitate the proletarian participation in the decisional process. Through the current means of communication, information, knowledge, education, data collection, would enormously facilitate the active participation process of the whole population in the decisions concerning all the society orientations, both referring to the production and to the territorial and demographic planning, and also to the definition of the activities aiming at the most complete fulfillment of individuals. Thanks to this, the free expression of individuals could more easily be combined with the decisional instances of all the governing bodies present in society. We have to see the great potentiality and newness of the Communist political project in this, too.

We conclude by saying that surely we will have to recall and take the analysed themes further, particularly the one, here and there just mentioned, of what it means the transformation, during the Transition, of the capitalist relation of production through the progressive abolition of the law of value. A central point which we will as soon as possible pay our attention to.

 

Notes

[1] In the USA, the ridiculous tax rate of 15% on the hedge funds was introduced by the democratic Bill Clinton and his Treasure Minister Robert Rubin as a continuation of the tax relief policy for rich people, started by the republican George Bush (neo-liberalist). It is an example of convergence among different schools of thought. See the article published in La Repubblica on the 2011-09-19 by F. Rampini “Obama tassa i ricchi per risanare i conti”.

[2] Economists today estimate the accumulated world overall debt in a very rough way, since it is very difficult to measure it. The estimates go from 8 to 10 times the gross world product. In any case, a debt volume absolutely unmanageable and unpayable to creditors!

[3] See in this regard our publication “La crisi del Capitalismo. Il crollo di Wall Street” (Ed. Istituto Onorato Damen, 2009, or the article “La crisi del debito sovrano è solo la punta dell’iceberg della crisi più generale del Capitalismo” and the chapters “La crisi del Subprime rileggendo Marx” , “Il dominio della finanza”, “Capitale fittizio e guerra permanente”, “La legge della caduta tendenziale del saggio medio del profitto”, taken from the volume “La crisi del Capitalismo. Il crollo di Wall Street”, ed. Istituto Onorato Damen, 2009. You can also find this material on the web at the address: http://www.istitutoonoratodamen.it/joomla/sullacrisi

[4] On the relation between cyclical crisis and decline, see our article published on the web at the address:

http://www.istitutoonoratodamen.it/joomla/documenti/149-appuntosulladecadenza

[5] See the “Manifesto del Partito Comunista” by K. Marx and F. Engels, 1848, Editori Riuniti, 1991, Roma.

[6] Ib., p. 31 and following pages.

[7] K. Marx, “Critica al programma di Gotha”, 1875, Editori Riuniti, 1976, Roma.

[8] K. Marx, ib., p. 29 and following pages.

[9] K. Marx, “La concezione materialistica della storia”, 1845-46, p. 56, Editori Riuniti, 1973, Roma.

[10] Ib., pp. 57 and 102.

[11] F. Engels, “L’evoluzione del Socialismo dall’utopia alla scienza”, 1880, Editori Riuniti, 1976, Roma and “Antidühring”, 1878, Editori Riuniti, 1976, Roma; K. Marx, “Il Capitale”, Giulio Einaudi Editre, 1975, Torino.

[12] V. Lenin, “Stato e rivoluzione”, 1917, Editori Riuniti, 1976, Roma.

[13] V. Lenin, “L’imperialismo”, Editori Riuniti, 1976, Roma.

[14] See the article “Gli uomini, le macchine e il capitale”, by G. Paolucci published in the number 2 of our magazine D-M-D’.

[15] See the article “Crisi e ripresa della lotta di classe” by G. Paolucci on http://www.leftcom.org/it/articles/2002-12-01/crisi-e-ripresa-della-lotta-di-classe

[16] Today, the wealth possessed by the richest 1% of the USA equals the 1929 one (23,5 % of the GNP in 2007, 23,9% in 1929). At present, in absolute value it is subsequently much greater than an extremely higher GNP. The datum is reported in the newspaper “La Repubblica”, on the 2011-09-19, p. 15.

[17] A. Bordiga has certainly given one of the most important contributions to the comprehension of what was happening in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. See, for example, his “Struttura economica e sociale della Russia d’oggi”, Edizioni Il programma comunista, 1976, Milano.

[18] V. Lenin, “Sull’imposta in natura”, in “Opere scelte”, volume VI, p. 441 and following pages, Editori Riuniti, 1975, Roma.

[19] See “Il pianeta degli slum” by Mike Davis, Serie Bianca Feltrinelli, 2006, Milano.

[20] See, for instance, the program of the French NPA (Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste), founded in 2009, at the address http://www.npa2009.org/sites/default/files/principesfondateurs.doc

[21] Edward H. Carr, “Storia della Russia sovietica”, volume I, chapter 8, p. 181 and following pages, Einaudi Editore, 1964, Torino.

[22] At this regard it is interesting the work by L. Goldner, “L’immensa sorpresa di ottobre”, p. 239 and following pages, published in the book by D. Lepore “Gemeinwesen o gemeinschaft?”, printed by PonSinMor, 2011, Gassino Torinese.

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